Sweet potato noodles have become a popular lower-calorie or low-carb alternative to traditional wheat noodles and pasta. But are they really low in calories? Here is a comprehensive look at the calorie content of sweet potato noodles.
What are sweet potato noodles?
Sweet potato noodles or spirals are made from sweet potatoes that have been spiralized, cut into noodles, or vegetable peeled. They come in a variety of shapes like spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine.
Popular brands like Explore Cuisine, Tolerant, and Trader Joe’s carry pre-made sweet potato noodles. But many people make them at home using a spiralizer or veggie peeler.
Sweet potato noodles became popular along with the paleo diet, gluten-free diets, and low-carb diets. They provide a pasta-like experience without wheat or grains.
Are sweet potato noodles low in calories?
Compared to traditional wheat noodles and pasta, sweet potato noodles are lower in calories. But the exact calorie count can vary.
One cup of cooked spaghetti has around 220 calories. Meanwhile, one cup of cooked sweet potato noodles has about 120-150 calories on average.
So sweet potato noodles contain about 50-100 fewer calories per cup. This calorie difference comes mainly from the lack of refined carbs and higher water content in sweet potatoes.
Calories in uncooked sweet potato noodles
If you purchase pre-made sweet potato noodles or make them yourself, the nutrition info is based on raw noodles before cooking.
Here are the calories for 1 cup (93g) of raw sweet potato noodles:
As you can see, raw sweet potato noodles only have 60-80 calories per cup. This is much lower than 220 calories in wheat pasta.
However, this is before the sweet potato noodles are cooked. The calories change once water is added during the cooking process.
Calories after cooking sweet potato noodles
When sweet potato noodles are cooked, they absorb water and become heavier. The weight of 1 cup cooked sweet potato noodles is higher than 1 cup raw.
Here are the calorie counts for cooked sweet potato noodles from various brands, based on a 1 cup serving size:
As you can see, cooking increases the calories in sweet potato noodles by around 50-70 per cup. But they still contain far fewer calories than regular pasta once cooked.
Calorie differences based on shape
Does the shape of sweet potato noodles affect their calorie content? Let’s compare different shapes:
Sweet potato noodles cut into thin spaghetti shapes absorb the most water during cooking. This leads to a higher calorie count per cup.
1 cup of cooked sweet potato spaghetti has around 150 calories on average.
Fettuccine style sweet potato noodles are flat and wider. The have a bit more substance than spaghetti noodles.
1 cup of cooked sweet potato fettuccine has around 140 calories.
Sweet potato linguine provides a happy medium between spaghetti and fettuccine. Linguine noodles are flat like fettuccine but smaller in width.
1 cup of cooked sweet potato linguine contains an average of 130 calories.
So in general, thinner sweet potato noodles in the spaghetti shape will be slightly higher in calories than flat linguine or fettuccine noodles.
Impact of cooking method
How you cook sweet potato noodles also affects their final calorie content. Here is how the common cooking methods compare:
Boiling sweet potato noodles causes them to absorb a lot of water, increasing their weight. This leads to more calories per cup.
1 cup of boiled sweet potato noodles has around 150 calories.
Sauteing sweet potato noodles in a little oil leads to some water evaporation. This decreases the weight and lowers the calories compared to boiling.
1 cup of sauteed sweet potato noodles has around 120-130 calories.
Steaming is one of the lowest calorie cooking methods, since no oil is added. But sweet potato noodles still absorb some moisture.
1 cup of steamed sweet potato noodles contains around 130-140 calories.
For the lowest calorie option, steaming is your best bet. And sauteing leads to fewer calories than boiling.
Impact of ingredients
What you top or mix with sweet potato noodles also modifies their calorie content. Here are some ideas with calorie counts based on 1 cup of noodles:
Plain sweet potato noodles
Plain steamed or sauteed sweet potato noodles have around 120-150 calories per cup as we’ve discussed.
With tomato sauce
Adding a half cup of tomato sauce would add around 40 calories. Total calories would be 160-190 per cup.
Stirring in 2 tablespoons (30g) of pesto would add about 120 calories. This brings the total to 240-270 calories per cup.
With coconut curry sauce
Mixing in a half cup of coconut curry sauce would add around 130 calories. So you’d get 250-280 calories for the full dish.
In short, sauces and mix-ins can significantly increase the calorie count. Opt for lower calorie sauces like tomato sauce rather than heavy, creamy sauces.
Comparing calories in sweet potato and wheat noodles
Now that we’ve looked closely at sweet potato noodles, how do they compare directly to wheat-based noodles?
Here is the calorie count for 1 cup of popular types of cooked noodles, made from both sweet potato and wheat/grains:
|Noodle type (cooked)||Calories|
|Sweet potato spaghetti||150|
|Sweet potato fettuccine||140|
|Sweet potato linguine||130|
|Whole wheat spaghetti||174|
As the table illustrates, sweet potato noodles contain significantly fewer calories than traditional wheat pasta and noodles. They also edge out whole wheat pasta.
So if you are looking to lower your calorie intake from pasta, sweet potato noodles can help trim 50-100 calories per serving.
Nutrients in sweet potato noodles
Beyond calories, sweet potato noodles contain some beneficial nutrients:
- Fiber – since the sweet potato contains the whole vegetable.
- Vitamin A – sweet potatoes are an excellent source.
- Vitamin C
- Antioxidants – like beta carotene.
Sweet potatoes are also high in manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, and pantothenic acid. You retain more of these nutrients when the vegetable is cut into noodles rather than processed into flour.
Should you swap traditional pasta for sweet potato noodles?
Given the significant calorie differences, should you ditch all wheat noodles and solely eat sweet potato noodles instead?
Sweet potato noodles can be part of a healthy, low-calorie diet. But for most people, completely abandoning traditional pasta is unrealistic long term. The best approach is moderation and balance of both types.
Some tips on fitting sweet potato and wheat noodles into your diet:
- Substitute sweet potato noodles for about half your weekly pasta intake.
- Mix wheat and sweet potato noodles together.
- Alternate between them each week.
- Make sweet potato noodles an occasional lower calorie option.
It’s also key to watch your portion sizes of all noodles and pasta. Even though sweet potato noodles are lower calorie, they are still a starchy carb.
Sweet potato noodles contain about 50-100 fewer calories per cup compared to wheat-based pasta. This calorie difference comes from the vegetable’s higher water content and lower amount of refined carbs.
On their own, plain cooked sweet potato noodles have 120-150 calories per cup on average. This can rise to 250-300 calories when adding sauces or oils.
Sweet potato noodles are also higher in nutrients like vitamin A and fiber compared to traditional pasta. Enjoying them occasionally can add variety to your diet and help reduce calories.